Benno, born in Fuerth, Germany, was the son of Berta Braindel (Reiner) and Gedalia Gustav Szulewitz. Mr. Szulewitz was a leather merchant. Benno was the youngest of eleven brothers and sisters. When the Nazis came to power and began enacting anti-Jewish decrees, Benno was two years old.
Within a few short years, many Jewish-owned businesses were confiscated and Jews were barred from most professions. They were later excluded from public schools and universities.
In October 1938, a month before Benno's seventh birthday, the Szulewitzes were ordered to leave Germany and move to Poland. Benno's parents had moved to Germany from Poland many years before, but in 1938 the Nazis passed a decree expelling all Polish Jews. The family moved to Lodz, Poland's second largest city.
In September 1939, the Germans occupied Lodz, and immediately began persecuting and brutalizing the city's Jews.
Forced to move into a sealed-off, overcrowded ghetto, Benno and his family underwent great suffering. There was little food and no heat. There was no running water or sewers. People died daily from starvation and exposure. Factories were built by the Germans to exploit cheap slave labor. Many worked for no more than a loaf of bread and a bowl of soup.
In December 1940, the Germans began rounding up and deporting the ghetto residents to various concentration camps. In Spring 1944, the Germans began emptying the Lodz ghetto, sending most of the remaining Jews to the death camps at Chelmno and Auschwitz.
The exact circumstances of Benno's death are not known.